Friday, October 03, 2008

Hot off the presses...

Your humble Editor-in-Chief made the rounds on Friday.

Channel 2 reporter Kristyn Hartman came out to my house to film a piece for the 6:00 News. She also posted this story on their website.

I also spoke to the Associated Press, and this report from AP writer Don Babwin is all over the country today.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Media Notebook (October 2, 2008)

Collected and Edited by Rick Kaempfer

Highlights and links to the big stories in the news this week about the media. This column appears twice a week at MEDIA NOTEBOOK

Broken ankle won't keep Ifill out of the debate

(TV Newser) PBS' Gwen Ifill has broken her ankle after tripping and falling down stairs at her home, a NewsHour insider tells TVNewser. We're told Ifill had been walking up a staircase, carrying research related to her moderating duties at Thursday's Vice Presidential debate in St. Louis, when she took a wrong step. The show will go on: Ifill is planning to travel to Missouri for the big event.

Will the anti-media campaign work for McCain?
(New York Observer) Jason Horowitz writes: "Ever since Sarah Palin crinkled her nose and dismissed the media and “all those reporters and commentators” during her speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, the media strategy of John McCain’s presidential campaign has been to assault it as biased, inaccurate and elitist. It doesn’t seem to be working out so great. Not only have the refs, by and large, declined to be gamed—the coverage in The New York Times has often been harshly critical and, by Times standards, remarkably unequivocal—but the media-hating public has reacted, more or less, with indifference. After holding a brief, post-convention lead in national polls, Mr. McCain now trails Barack Obama by about five percentage points. As a matter of fact, at this point, some McCain sympathizers sound as if they’re no longer sure what to make of what the campaign is doing at all."

Letterman YouTube clip outdraws CBS clip
(Advertising Age) Sen. John McCain's snub of David Letterman last week may have deprived the "Late Show" host of some needed star power last week, but it's given him a hit on the web. So far, video of Mr. Letterman's tirade against Mr. McCain, who bowed out the day of the telecast, has generated more than 3.5 million views on YouTube. One problem: CBS is barely making a dime from the clip. That's because the vast majority of the views -- 3.2 million -- are attributed to pirated versions of the "Late Show," according to tracking firm TubeMogul.


“The ‘pouncers’ are indeed out.”
( Tom Taylor writes: "A dealmaker picks up my word for the choosy deal-pickers who are waiting to pounce on lower station prices (when arrive), and says 'I heard from two of them just today.' He also says 'The credit meltdown is changing lenders into owners' – which will ultimately be good for those coiled-and-ready pouncers, since the goal of the lender-owners is to get their money and get the heck out. Like a predator on one of those National Geographic Channel wild-animal documentaries, these pouncers are just waiting for the right conditions, and then they’ll strike. One exec at a rumored-to-be-threatened group emails T-R-I to say that the reality of the situation isn’t what the rumor-spreaders suggest. That he 'and the other numerous mid-cap broadcasters who are having discussions with their lenders' right now aren’t going to be toppled as automatically as the Rumor Mill suggests. Meanwhile, T-R-I hears that one such company recently retained bankruptcy counsel. Stay tuned."

Media companies have worst year since 2001
(Advertising Age) Bradley Johnson writes: "The nation's top 100 media companies saw a 4.6% revenue boost in 2007, their slowest growth since the recession year of 2001. Media's tempered growth mirrors that of the economy: GDP last year recorded its most tepid growth (2%) since 2002 amid signs the economy was heading into recession. Media's biggest winner is no surprise: digital, with revenue up 10.8%. Cable-network growth was close behind, at 10.6%. The biggest loser: newspapers, down 6.8%."

The worst media stock? CBS
(Associated Press) The worst-performing stock among major companies in the sector was CBS Corp., which dropped 25.2 percent to $14.58, largely because its radio and TV stations and outdoor billboards are considered particularly susceptible to a weak economy. DiClemente said that among its peers, CBS is "the most vulnerable to the softer advertising trends anticipated to continue into 2009."
(Rick's note: I think I can officially kiss those stock options goodbye.)

CEOs who lose millions in minutes
(Forbes) The fortune of 77-year-old media tycoon and News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch declined $2 billion to $6.8 billion. News Corp.'s stock price fell 34% over the last 12 months despite the robustness of the Fox brand and its purchase of Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal. Murdoch lost $1,000 every 15.78 seconds, or $63.38 per second. That's about $1.5 million an hour.


Another Sarah Palin SNL moment

I thought this was even funnier


Spike O'Dell departure from WGN is now official
(Radio & Records) Mike Stern writes: "General manager Tom Langmyer confirms that Tribune talk WGN/Chicago morning host Spike O'Dell is definitely leaving the station at the end of this year. Rumors of his departure started in July with sources saying O'Dell was likely to leave at the end of his current contract."

Mini Interview: Wendy Snyder
(Chicago Radio Spotlight) Every week I'm featuring excerpts from my SHORE Magazine article about 14 local radio voices. This week: Wendy Snyder.

Chicago Radio Spotlight interview: Brian Noonan
(Chicago Radio Spotlight) Last weekend I spoke with WGN radio's overnight host Brian Noonan. He talks about his career in comedy and his favorite moments at WGN. Coming this weekend (former WLS & WLUP staffer) Jack Landreth.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Suburban Man: Older parents, younger children

By Rick Kaempfer

I see the trend wherever I go these days: older and older parents with younger and younger children.

My generation was a little slow out of the child-raising blocks. While we were in our twenties, it was the furthest thing from our minds. We had places to go, people to meet, and careers to pursue. Most of us didn’t seriously think about starting families until we got into our 30s, and many of us waited until after 40.

We’re paying the price for it now.

I get a particular kick out of this phenomenon whenever I go to the park or playground with my youngest son (age 5). The kids are running, jumping, sliding, and squealing, while the parents are huffing, puffing, chasing, and screaming. A typical 2—6 year old child has more energy than an entire village of 40-somethings. A one hour visit to the park for a child merely ensures a good night’s sleep. A one hour visit to the park for an adult may require hospitalization.

I’m not making fun of you 40-something parents, believe me. I’m one of you. I feel your pain…literally. It’s usually in my back, but sometimes I feel a little tightness in my hamstrings and pectorals. Sure, we could take drastic measures and consider something like getting into shape, but who has the time? If these kids aren’t getting us into shape, a whole year with Richard Simmons isn’t going to help.

That’s why I’ve developed a series of energy-saving activities that will allow you to make it through a day without first aid treatment, while still providing your children with delightful fun and exercise. Feel free to replicate these in your own home. There’s no charge.


You’ve probably played more than a few games of hide and seek in your time, but have you ever tried playing “Hide”? In this game, you volunteer to do the hiding, and your rambunctious little one has to “Seek.” There are at least a few places in your home where your child won’t look, and let’s face it…they aren’t that great at seeking. Take a magazine with you, don’t make a sound, and relax. I’ve been known to get fifteen-to-twenty minutes of resting time with this technique, and my kids love it. They think I have magical powers.


You’ve probably gone on the teeter-totter in the park with your kids, but have you ever used the device as it was intended to be used? Put the little one on one side, sit down on the other….and then don’t move. Your child will remain teetering in the air, unable to escape, for as long as you need to rest. Listen to them squeal with delight as they stare danger in the face and survive.

*Time trials

A stop watch costs a few bucks, but it’s worth every penny. When the kid’s energy level is making him or her bounce off the walls, it’s time to head outside and do time trials. Fix yourself a nice cool (or hot) drink, grab a chair, pick a starting line and you’re all set. The key to this game is insisting on a circular path. I always make the boys run around the house. The house always remains the same size, and they can chart the improvement in their times.
(Note: If you don’t want to buy a stopwatch, you can always count the seconds out loud. This makes them run even faster—and tends to tire them out.)

*Big Helper
After chasing Junior around the house all day, household chores become even more chore-like. But wait! You’ll never have to fetch another thing as long as your “Big Helper” is in the house. Phrasing the request correctly is essential. I recommend the following: “Do you think you’re a big enough boy to go fetch the garbage can upstairs?” That usually works. If it doesn’t, don’t forget the stopwatch. “I bet you can’t get the garbage can upstairs and bring it down here in thirty seconds. Ready? Go!”

I know a lot of you are also older parents, and I’d love to hear some of your tricks of the trade.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Musings

Every Monday stop by for jokes, links to stories you might have missed, amusing photos and video, and more. Contributions and suggestions are welcome and encouraged. Click on the "Email Me" link on the right to contribute.

Joke of the Week:

It is hard to find a joke today without a dirty word or two in it, but, here is one:

Two tall trees, a birch and a beech, are growing in the woods. A small tree begins to grow between them, and the beech says to the birch, 'Is that a son of a beech or a son of a birch?'

The birch says he cannot tell.

Just then a woodpecker lands on the sapling. The birch says, 'Woodpecker, you are a tree expert.. Can you tell if that is a son of a beech or a son of a birch?'

The woodpecker takes a taste of the small tree. He replies, 'It is neither a son of a beech nor a son of a birch. It is, however, the best piece of ash I have ever put my pecker in.'

Stories you might have missed

1. The E-Street Lego Band

(Like you've never seen them before...)

2. Don't lie to David Letterman
(And it wasn't even McCain's biggest mistake of the week.)

3. Man charged with battery for farting at cop
(Word is that he ate several hard boiled eggs earlier that day)

4. Lindsay Lohan admits: I've been dating Sam a long time

(Whenever I hear a woman has become gay, I think, yup--I can see that. I'd be gay too.)

5. Clay Aiken admits he is gay
(I haven't been this shocked since Liberace's lover outed him.)

Video of the week: Contributed by "R"

Photo of the week: Get your shirt for the playoffs here.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Brian Noonan

Brian Noonan is a comedian, an actor, and the weekend overnight host at WGN Radio.

Rick: I know you grew up on the south side. Who were some of the local Chicago radio guys who influenced you the most?

Brian: I really think I started being influenced by some of the great Chicago radio talents before I even realized it. Not to be a company shill, but when I was a kid, there wasn’t a day that went by that WGN wasn’t on in our house. I listened to Wally Phillips, Bob Collins (photo) and Roy Leonard for years before I found out that there were other radio stations out there. They had an ability to connect with an audience which I see now is what made them so successful.

As I got older, I was a big fan of Larry Lujack, Bob Sirott, and John Landecker. Then Johnny B. came to town and I was under his spell like everyone else I knew. The guy who I’m sure has influenced me the most is Steve Dahl (photo), both as a solo act and during his legendary run with Garry Meier. I was and still am a huge fan. I learned from him that you can share personal stories, comment on the news and be a social critic as long as, above all else, you are funny and genuine. I know I’m leaving out some fantastic talents, but I’ve always loved radio, so the list of guys I admire and who influenced me would be epic.

Rick: I've heard your show on WGN a few times, and I think you really have something there. How would you describe the show to people who haven't heard it before?

Brian: Thanks for the compliment. Trying to describe my own show is a difficult task, because when you boil it down, the show is me. It’s my life, opinions and my interaction with listeners. It’s definitely humor driven and I try to not take myself or anything else too seriously. I can and do talk about important stories with the proper reverence, but within a few minutes I’m laughing about something else. Depending on the day it’s also me doing silly characters, telling tall tales and just having a good time.

My first producer described me as an “every man” and I think that’s accurate. I have a lot of the same problems, concerns and experiences as most people, but its how I deal with them, the way I tell a story and my willingness to share the details that hopefully set me apart. I think it’s my ability to connect with people and be genuine that makes listeners comfortable spending time with me. I also think the listener can tell I’m having a ball and that atmosphere of fun is contagious. I try to keep a quote from Dean Martin in mind whenever I’m doing the show, “just tryin’ to have a little fun folks, that’s all.”

Rick: I've done the overnight shift before, and I know how much it messes with your body clock. You've filled in for Steve & Johnny several times and had to do it for more than a few days in a row. With a young daughter at home, it must be a rough schedule. When do you find time to sleep?

Brian: I have had the honor and pleasure of being the main fill-in for Steve and Johnnie (photo) for the last year and a half. I cover the 2-5 am portion of their show and it’s always a great time. Their audience and crew have been welcoming and I always look forward to keeping their seats warm. Boy, that doesn’t sound right, but you know what I mean.

I had a hard time adjusting my sleep schedule when I started covering for them and even with doing the weekend overnights. Should I sleep right when I come home, take short naps, sleep later in the day, or just forget it and get so pumped up on coffee and energy drinks that sleep doesn’t matter? Getting home at 6 am is proving a little easier now that school is back in session. My daughter is in band, so that requires us to get up at six every morning anyway. I usually come home, wake her up and go about my normal routine. Then I stay up and work on the next day’s show, do my mundane errands and then hit the sack around noon. I’ll get my full amount of sleep and then be up in time to spend some time with my wife and daughter, watch some TV and then it’s back to the station. It is definitely an adjustment, especially doing the shift sporadically, but I enjoy being the voice crying out in the darkness.

Rick: Your career is like a radio sandwich. Radio, then stand up comedy, and then back to radio again. I know you do both radio and comedy these days. Do you consider yourself more of a radio guy doing stand up or a stand up guy doing radio?

Brian: Wow, why do you want to box me in? I can’t be compartmentalized. This is an interesting question because it’s a perception that can work against you in both areas. I think both stand-ups and radio people are very territorial and don’t like the idea of interlopers “trying” their craft. I can see their point. I respect and enjoy both very much. Now that I’ve stalled it’s time to answer your question. I would say I’m neither. I’m an entertainer first and foremost. I have developed and continue to develop the skills I need to do a great job in both forums. I enjoy different aspects of each job. Whether it’s the live performance and instant feedback of stand-up, or the theater of the mind creation, and local connection of radio, in the end, being able to deliver funny content and being relatable are the most important things to both jobs.

Rick: You were out in LA for awhile and managed to get a few pretty impressive credits on the resume. One of your gigs was a recurring role on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno as a sketch player. Talk about that experience a little.

Brian: TV work is great if you can get it. I recommend everyone try. You get treated great, no matter how small your part may be, you’re compensated well and let’s be honest, being on TV is cool. I did my first sketch on The Tonight Show when they were doing a week of shows from the Rosemont Theater. I played a guy who demanded a hot dog from Jay Leno (photo) and then in a video montage, the hotdog was brought to me by various Chicago celebrities and sports stars. The best thing to come out of that day was meeting Walter Payton. It was right before he got sick. He was very friendly and I was like a little kid I was so excited.

When I moved to L.A., I contacted the producer who had hired me in Chicago and was fortunate enough to do a few more things for them. One of the “highlights” was appearing topless in a sketch parodying the now defunct XFL. Another giant man and I were cheering for the “XPGA”. Nothing says quality television like shirtless, overweight men jumping up and down with painted stomachs. Unfortunately that was not my only topless TV appearance. Did I mention they pay well?

Rick: OK, let's talk about LA versus Chicago. They say that Chicago people who move to LA never seem to fit in to the LA world. Did you find that to be true, and if so, why do you think that is?

Brian: Except for my four years at Southern Illinois University, I had always lived in the Chicago area, so any move would have been an adjustment. I think it’s easy for people to bash L.A., but overall I really enjoyed my time there. That may be because I didn’t live in the belly of the beast. We were very fortunate. A week after arriving I was on a game show and won enough money to put a down payment on a house. We lived in the Santa Clarita Valley which is about thirty miles North of Hollywood. Mine was a typical suburban life except for my unusual job. I might have had a harder time adjusting if I lived in Hollywood with four other guys in a cramped apartment. Most of the people I met weren’t native Californians anyway, so everyone could relate to making adjustments.

There were definitely things I missed about living in Chicago, but I came back often enough to satisfy my culinary needs and enjoy three days of snow. I didn’t miss the humidity or the mosquitoes and loved eating Christmas Eve dinner outside. The biggest differences I found were based in the show biz world where people were always looking over your shoulder to see if someone more important was in the room, and an overall sense of superficiality. I never bought into that, so I enjoyed my time there and never thought we would move back to Chicago, but you know what they say about best laid plans.

Rick: You're also an actor, which is one of the reasons you were out in LA. I take it there isn't a ton of acting work here in Chicago. Are you still keeping your hands in it (doing commercials, etc)?

Brian: You’d be surprised how much acting work is available Chicago. There is a lot of commercial production and Hollywood is taking more notice of our beautiful city and bringing movie production here. The industry is still entrenched in L.A., but opportunities for Chicago actors are increasing. I still audition for anyone that will have me and have been fortunate enough to book some commercial work since coming back. It’s just another avenue to be creative. I’m always ready for my close up, but I don’t know if the public is ready. Did I mention the topless appearances?

Rick: Working at WGN radio has got to be a big thrill for someone who grew up in Chicago. It's the ultimate destination for radio professionals. How did you get your foot in the door there, and what do you consider some of the highlights of your time at WGN?

Brian: The fact that I get to roam the same halls and work in the same studios as some of the legends of Chicago radio is never lost on me. There is a history at WGN that has to be respected, and it is a thrill to be able to do my part. The fact that my entire family is lifelong WGN listeners, so I get a little respect during holiday dinners is another bonus.

I got my foot in the door in a non-traditional way. I had decided that it was time to get back to radio and had put together a demo made up of my appearances on various shows. Tim Dukes who was the P.D. at the Loop at the time, heard that demo and asked me to put together a show with myself as the lead. I got a studio, asked another comic to be my sidekick, found a woman to add another voice and did a mock show. Despite very positive response, The Loop hired some guy named Jonathon Brandmeier. Maybe you’ve heard of him. I think he’s got potential. I sent the demo to WGN because Todd Manley was acting P.D. Todd and I had both attended S.I.U. and were acquaintances, so I figured I had nothing to lose except the postage. To be honest, I never thought I’d hear from him. It was WGN after all. Todd heard something he liked and asked me to come in, but by the time I did, there was a new P.D. who didn’t share his vision. That guy was gone fast, and Todd and Kurt Vanderah brought me in. Those guys were big supporters of mine and I’ll always be grateful to them for giving me the shot. I was teamed with Laura Hirsch at first, but she left after eight months and I’ve been going it alone ever since.

There have been so many highlights for me since I started at WGN. The biggest one was the first time I got to do the legal I.D. and throw it to news. To me, that meant I was really on the station. Since then I’ve been thrilled to meet the other fine voices at the station, do cross talk with Spike, Orion and Max, fill in for Steve and Johnnie, and meet a lot of great listeners. I’ve also enjoyed building the show to a point where we’re starting to attract quality guests at off peak hours.

Rick: What do you think your show needs to take it to the next level?

Brian: This is a tricky one because if I really knew the answer I’d have moved to that level, but here’s what I think. To successfully move to the next level, the first thing I need is more reps. Nobody grows without constant effort and repetition. The weeks I fill in and do eight or nine shows, things are really humming. I get into a rhythm like all the good ones do. Since the hiring part is out of my control, I also need someone with the foresight and imagination to not worry about where I’ve been, but to see where I can go and give me a shot. Add in a great support staff, management support, a heaping dose of luck, then click your heels together three times, say “full time gig” and there you have it. (Oh yeah, getting to do an interview always helps too.)